KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 15): Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the vaccination programme under the Ministry of Health (MOH) has not been without its challenges.
In a tweet Saturday (Jan 15), he said that in addition to the global vaccine shortages and delivery issues, Malaysia’s vaccination programme encounters vaccine hesitancy and refusal in specific population segments.
Reflecting on the last 24 months of the Covid-19 pandemic, he said, in a separate statement, one of the monumental undertakings by the MOH was delivering the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK).
“While we have already witnessed an overwhelmingly positive response in vaccine uptake, the MOH will continue to strengthen its effort to safeguard the nation’s interests for access to safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines.
“To achieve this, the country requires a comprehensive effort from all stakeholders, including various ministries, agencies, voluntary bodies, and communities,” he said.
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Noor Hisham said with the ongoing Covid-19 vaccine booster programme and an imminent paediatric vaccination programme, the MOH will need to disentangle disinformation on Covid-19 vaccines, predominantly through social media platforms.
He explained that in Malaysia, prior to registration of any drug or vaccine, the MOH, through the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA), undertakes a stringent evaluation process to ensure the quality, safety, and efficacy thresholds all fulfil regulatory requirements.
“A critical regulatory requirement for any approved vaccine is post-marketing surveillance for continuous safety reporting to NPRA and the Product Registration Holder (PRH).
“The NPRA’s Adverse Events Following Immunisation (AEFI) reporting format is paramount to signalling any potential side effects or safety concerns.
“All ‘Safety Alerts’ on product warnings or withdrawals will be communicated to healthcare professionals as soon as possible,” he said.
Noor Hisham said that recently, concerns about vaccine-associated myocarditis and pericarditis, particularly the mRNA Covid-19 vaccine for the younger population, have been expressed.
“As of now, with over 33 million doses of mRNA-based vaccines administered in our country, the post-marketing surveillance found that the benefit of the Covid-19 vaccines far outweighs the risks.
“The MOH would like to assure the public that we are fully committed to continuously monitoring any safety alerts from the current vaccination programme,” he said.